Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hollywood Dance Movies

I am kind of stuck with movies these days. I keep on watching movies. First they were action. Then I turned to romance. And now I am obsessed with dance movies. They are dance movies but romance is a plus, kind of buy one get one free.

I turned to dance movies from romance movies watching Footloose (1985). That was a fantastic movie. Then I got idea of Step Up 3D during my search of movies on google. Downloaded it and watched a dozen times. I love it man. What a fantastic movie this is. The first two part are not as good as third one is. But kind of cool ones. I liked this movie.

And then comes step three when I turn to other dance movies. I go to google and ask it to gimme a list of God damn dance movies like Step Up. And it provided me a list of dance movies (and of course romance was free with each one). So for last 2 days I am kind of screwed up by these movies. I watch, and watch and keep on watching. One turns off, another has completed download and I get stuck with another one. This is second night I am on for late night. And tonight I am writing this post as well.

I never knew about dance so well before these 2 days. It is a whole world and kind of cruel world. But these movies, the ones I've watched so far show two kinds of worlds or worlds of dance. As I am a linguistics learner as well, and Discourse Analysis is one of my favourite areas in my field. So I always seek to find patterns, commonalities and structures. So here again, I could not stop myself analysing all the stories and find out common areas. And I got quite a success. I've found some very interesting points.

As I told in last paragraph there are two kinds of worlds presented here. One is prefect, rigid and requires perfection beyond the abilities of the dancer, and is the elite world of dancing as well, and that is Ballet Dance (pronounced as /ˈbæl.eɪ/). It is special for girls, specially white girls ( I found only 1 black ballet dancer so far in movies). There are large companies who run Ballet Dance theaters and like that stuff. On the other hand there is imperfection, lower class, street dance which is said to be unique and different from person to person, and that is Hip Hop (at least what I could figured out from characters' discussions). The dancers are poor and lower class teens who dance in clubs or streets, they bet on dancing with dollars or take part in competitions to win money. And most street dancers are black, sometimes white as well.

The stories are 99% related to winning a championship or a final performance which will give you a job thus save your career as a dancer. The dancers get scholarships or work hard for the final event. There might be a group of dancers or a solo male or female dancer in leading role. They'll train during the whole film. There would be minor skirmishes during this, a few villain kind of guys hanging around, a few gun fires and perhaps a killing. In the meantime the leading character would find a lover, or s/he will get the other one because s/he has broken up. If they are a group, they'll work together to win dance competition otherwise the other one would help the leading character to win the final event. And at the end (in middle as well actually) there is always a big long kiss (not always that long though). So the story ends, and if there is a sequel the next movie would start with a familiar character from last movie or story would continue with same characters (played by new actors) or it would start or take place on same place.

Probably you've noticed the kind of language I've been using in this post. This is another aspect of these movies. They are related to American teens, specially black teens. So the informal slang is being used throughout the story by the characters. And eventually the watcher also gets his tongue polluted. So I am screwed up here man. These dance movies really suck but I've to keep on watching until my list of movies completes. And in the mean time if you get some time, try Step Up 1, 2 and 3 man. This trilogy really cool dude. Trust me. ;-)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Just How Easily Miscommunication Occurs

It has been a proven fact that we anticipate the next sentence while reading a set of sentences i.e a paragraph. Normally it is considered as a part of discourse processing abilities of our mind, and considered essential to understand a piece of communication. On the other hand, there is an other view that we read what we want to read, or in simple words we perceive meaning which we desire. This second theory looks a bit more aggressive or extremist. But in lots of cases it is true. Specially when we talk about propaganda literature: the people who side with them will see it positively while the people who are against that ideology will perceive it negatively. There are actually very few people who make their mental understanding of the text after fully reading it. Most of us tend to understand the letter from the cover, and make a pre-reading expectation in our mind. And afterwards fit the text or piece of communication in it. Another factor which also helps form pre-reading expectation is the context. The heading or the name of writer/speaker of the text may be considered co-text, while the surrounding clues which are other than language can be considered context.
This post was about a miscommunication actually. The context was online, from Facebook. There is a group of Pakistani English bloggers where they discuss how to blog, and other such stuff. The general background on discussions is about opportunity whether it’s in terms of writing better blog posts, using ads effectively, new ad networks, new topics to blog or writing guest posts on some blog. So it is legitimate to have a discussion on possible job opportunities i.e. working as a blogger. This little piece of miscommunication was triggered partially through this background and context. The rest was covered by the choice of words.
Now if you see the first sentence Anybody wants to get interviewed?, it may look like writer wants to ask for bloggers to be interviewees for her blog. It’s just fine until now and reader is understanding what the writer is saying. But the second part turns things upside down. Looking for a Tech Blogger (bla bla bal), the very wording of this sentence is compelling towards what the reader wants to understand from context i.e. a job opportunity. Now here it may be observed that co-text is over ridden by context of the utterance. I myself concluded that this message means “I want to hire a technical blogger. Come and get interviewed.”. The other comments are clearly getting the meaning what I perceived in my first reading. But writer (perhaps she got the impression that something was wrong with her wording), in last comment clarifies what she wants. if we see again in the original message’s first sentence, the message was clear she just wanted to interview some bloggers to create content for her own blog. But the context of the message and the expectations of the readers over ridden all the meaning what was intended, and the readers perceived what they wanted to perceive (in a manner of speaking).
So folks you see, how choice of words, context and our own pre-reading expectations change the meaning of words and cause miscommunication. Smile

Friday, October 21, 2011

Some Popular Themes of Science Fiction Series

I've been watching Science Fiction movies and TV series for quite some time. Apart from original 6 movies of Star Trek I watched whole series of Start Trek The Next Generation (it was the most favourite of mine), and now I am watching Start Trek Deep Space 9 plus Star Gate SG1. Though Star Gate is different science fiction universe, but the themes behind Star Trek and Star Gate are usually similar. They might be implemented in different ways in each series, season or franchise but the idea can be extracted. For several weeks I wanted to write something about it, and looks like it's about time.
  • The change of personality of a person is common. The consciousness of a human either transmitted to computer or other human. There are cases when more than one consciousnesses can reside in same mind. Both Star Trek and Stargate presented this theme several times. ST used Hollow Deck or Hollow Suit for the implementation of the idea, SG applied it though alien technology or alien beings residing in the body of an SG personnel.
  • Time travel is very common in such fictional series. Especially ST ships have a tendency to go to past every now and then whenever they encounter a temporal anomaly. While SG use the circular object of shimmering water i.e. Star Gate to travel past. Sometimes aliens possess this technology and SG personnel travel to past. The main concern in such episodes is not to change timeline, because if past is changed present would change as well. So they are always trying to restore the timeline or struggle to stop other enemies who are trying to change it.
  • There are parallel universes in each science fiction universe. The characters have a tendency to be trapped into an alternate reality every now and then. It happened several times in SG when SG1 encountered a mirror which could trigger alternate realities. On the other hand ST DS9 has got several episodes on alternate universe. Quite frankly whenever I suspect an episode to be based on this idea I skip it. Because in DS9 it's quite the same every time, go there save someone, or loose someone. So I leave those episodes.
  • Beings of another dimension or beings of energy is a very interesting theme which is used in such series. The characters encounter strange beings which are either beyond human or linear understanding of time (e.g. Q and Prophets of Bajor in ST, and Ancients of SG). They are superior, they are hostile or friendly, kind or ruthless, caring or uncaring, that all depends on the kind of species. Other than that there may be energy beings which can convert into solid beings at any time, but its not mentioned whether they are beyond human understanding of time and space. SG and ST has got plenty of episodes on such themes when characters encounter energy beings.
  • The theme of a parasite living in humanoid body i.e. symbiont is a reality in ST and SG universes. The parasites live in the body, they give strength, intellect and long life. Both parasite and humanoid combine to create a new personality (Trills in ST and To'kra/ Goa'uld in SG). The parasite is preserved on the death of host and is passed to another one, thus its life goes on and it can live of several life spans of humanoid hosts. The knowledge and intellect plus memories pass from one to another host. It's considered an honour to have a symbiont (in ST, and in human slaves of SG so to become system lord).
  • The characters of such stories are explorers. They travel to new planets watching and learning about new worlds. In ST the travel is through space ship (ST Next Generation) while in SG its through Star gate. They encounter various races which are physiologically different from humans. ST depended a lot on changing face of the characters to create aliens and used makeup techniques. While in SG, they have mostly the excuse that humans were enslaved by Goa'uld and taken to other planets. So others would be humans as well. But some races are different e.g. Jaffa, Asgard of SG1. The explorers frequently become saviours for the races they meet. They might free them from an enemy (as it happens most of the time in SG1 to liberate people from Goa'uld) or it may be to save them from natural calamities. In the second situation the planet is usually dying so the explorers help them relocate (through ship in ST and through Stargate in SG).
  • Super Human mind abilities is also a popular theme for such fictional stories. There are beings which can control the mind of others/ or transmit and receive thoughts  though their brain power both in SG and ST. ST has beings like Volcans and Betazoids who possess telepathic and empathic powers. While SG has the being like Ori or the Path of Origin who possess strong mental abilities. Occasionally there are experiments to create superhuman in SG, which can possess brain power to control things just by their thought (tele-kinetic).
  • Interstellar travel, wormholes, space ships, artificial gravity, energy weapons, force fields instead of iron bars and doors in prisons, sub space communication (faster than light communication), faster than light travel, worp drive/ hyper drive are popular concepts which help build these fictional universes.
All this looks weird, dream, far from reality and truth, part of a dreamer's world. But who knows someday it may come true. Some grand son of my great grand son might be able to see the distances of the universe shrunk by technology. And perhaps my eyes through his eyes would see the wonders that I can never see in my life time. Perhaps....if this planet survived from the hostilities of its very own creation, the humans, perhaps then humankind may be able to see all these wonders.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Linguistics: Introduction and Levels

This lecture deals with levels of linguistics or branches of linguistics including micro branches e.g. grammar, syntax, phonology, as well as macro branches e.g. sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics etc. Additionally there is a short introduction of linguistics in first few slides. The purpose is to create a basic introduction towards linguistics on which the details will be built upon later.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Functions of Langauge

Language is a tool which is used by its speakers to perform various tasks. These tasks are called functions of language. Geoffrey Finch divides the functions of language in two main categories i.e. Micro and Macro. Micro functions are those which help us identify/name things, record, release emotional energy, communicate, socialise, think and enjoy through language. On the other hand macro functions are generalised forms of micro ones which incorporate one or more than one functions within themselves. Thus ideational function helps us conceptualise the world around us, interpersonal function helps us create our relation with respect to other things and humans in society and environment, poetic function gives us liberty to bend the world and create world through words, textual function gives us ability to create understandable and interconnected texts.
The lecture below details the functions of language.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Properties of Human Language

Human language differs from animal communication in different ways. It has unique properties and characteristics. This lecture has been prepared to discuss the unique properties of human language and how they are not present or present at extremely low level in animal communication

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Source of Langauge

This is first lecture of the series that I'll present on this blog. The lecture is on Source of Language and book consulted is Study of Language by George Yule. It can be used for beginner linguistic students, to give them idea of Fundamentals of Linguistics.